I’ve talked about how I see relationships as being a journey we take.
To take a journey though you need a landscape. This is the landscape of relationships.
The relationship dream is of finding your Prince or Princess and living happily ever after. For most of us, our journeys are not quite so smooth and linear.
We often have to kiss some frogs and heal broken hearts before we find our relationship bliss.
Having seen many people succeed and fail in navigating these lands, I wanted to share my (poorly drawn) relationship map.
Most of us have had our heart broken so badly that we never thought it would heal. This is heartbreak hell.
Most of the pain we feel comes from fear and anxiety that we are losing someone and something that will mean we can never be as happy again.
The Bitter Barrenlands
Not everyone fully heals from heartbreak.
The people who don’t heal, refuse to accept reality.
When a breakup happens it shatters our narrative. Healing is upgrading our narrative. Some people refuse to do this. They don’t look on what they can learn or accept their part in whatever happened. Instead, they stay angry at their Ex’s. They smoulder with every rejection and decide that men or women are all cheats/golddiggers etc.
There are many thriving communities full of people who create narratives that blame an entire gender and devise strategies to ‘WIN’ at relationships.
Of course, they lose. They live their lives angry, bitter and deeply resentful.
The key to all stages is in your narrative. Here it’s especially about having the courage to move from victim to champion of your life.
Most people who date find it an unsatisfying experience. Rudeness, flakiness and disappointment lead lots of people to dread dating.
Relationships lack trust. Dating though exacerbates that lack of trust and so almost all use it for their own selfish gain.
That creates an environment where interactions are transactional rather than connecting.
And so often someone will give up on dating and swear to a life alone.
The secret to mastering dating doldrums is to treat dating as a project and not pin all your romantic hopes on someone you know nothing about. Refusing to buy into the Fairytale Fantasy and instead looking on dating as a sorting project is the key to success.
One of the things that makes dating so frustrating is that it is often punctuated with short term relationships that go nowhere.
There’s the guy who won’t commit. The girl who dumps you for someone else. Or maybe it’s you who decides they’re not going to be right for you when you look deeper into them.
It’s frustrating to feel that you’re always kissing frogs and never finding the right one.
The key to getting through this stage is to not commit all your hopes and expectations too early. So many people fueled by the fairytale fantasy hope with little basis, that this will be the person who I can build a life with. And they stay… and stay… even as it becomes clearer and clearer that it won’t last. Because they don’t want to give up after investing so much into the relationship.
The greatest danger of dating from the Fairytale Fantasy is that you believe in the possibility of Prince Charming sweeping you off your feet.
There are predators on dating sites. They are small in number, but Psychopaths, Sociopaths and Narcissists thrive in dating sites.
They are more charming and attractive. They have the charisma of having no self-consciousness. They have developed the art of picking up cues and playing the role you want.
Because their relationships tend not to last. And because one relationship at a time isn’t usually enough, their presence in dating outweighs their numbers.
Their victims will fall for their charm, but the act can only last so long. Once you’re hooked and when the flush of first love fades and you stop seeing them on a pedestal, they’ll use control, manipulation and abuse to get what they want from you.
They’ll discard you and hook you back in.
And soon… you’ll have lost your strength and become a shadow of who you were, not knowing what happened to you.
The key out is overwriting all the narratives.
So many loved up couples believe that their life will be the fairytale, but it actually ends up being more Cinderella before she went to the ball.
Jed Diamond talks about the five stages of a relationship and how after the honeymoon it dips with the drudgery of domestic life.
For many couples, it becomes so unsatisfying that one jumps ship. However, you can both work through this to the fifth stage of deep love and companionship.
The key is again narratives. It’s to look at expectations and your experience. It’s to slay the dragon, so that you can work together without resentment and bitterness.